HOEGLAW. Richard Hoeg has many interests. None of them include criminal law or horses, which I have been asked to make explicitly clear for SEO purposes. One of them is talkin' about stuff, including video games and Star Wars; he's put together a Youtube channel for his various and sundry podcast appearances.
this bullet mentions Charles Matthews and Nick Ward [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Implications of exclusion. Charles Matthews was not invited to the NBA draft combine, and MLive's Kyle Austin has some data on what that means:
In the two NBA drafts since 2016, when college players were first allowed to return to school after declaring, 254 college players have declared early. Of them, the majority (157) didn't receive a combine invite.
Most prospects in that situation opt to return to school -- a total of 130 players have withdrawn from the draft in the last two years. But 47 of those players have opted stayed in the draft despite no combine invitation. None of those 47 players were drafted.
Many of the 47 who stayed in had reasons: they were going to be ineligible or were never going to be NBA players anyway and wanted to get on with overseas careers. (CC: Nick Ward?) A few have worked their way into the league after going undrafted, but it's a rough way to attempt to break in.
Another year of John Beilein Development™ is a better path to the league for Matthews, who clearly has NBA upside if he can just learn to shoot some.
WOULD BE NICE. Standard offseason new position coach articles do come with a little more oomph when the coach in question has the track record of Ed Warinner. Angelique Chengelis got a hell of a quote from Stephen Spanellis:
“It’s really amazing,” lineman Stephen Spanellis said during the team’s trip to Paris this past week. “Coach Warinner’s philosophy, he tells us that he doesn’t to start calculus before everybody can pass Algebra 1. I felt like before we would go straight to rocket science and try to cover everything possible in every meeting. And some guys can’t keep up and it doesn’t have value for a guy to sit in a meeting and they have no idea what’s going on fundamentally with normal plays like inside zone or power.
“So why not slow it down and learn all the basics before you progress? What makes it hard is our defense is so complex, that they break a lot of rules and you have to advance a little bit. But fundamentally, slowing it down a little bit has a lot of value especially for the younger guys who are still learning the offense. For example, James Hudson coming over from defense, it takes a long time to learn the offense in general. Why leave a guy like that at a disadvantage by making it too complicated?”
"No idea what's going on with normal plays" is unfortunately the story of every Michigan line since 2011, and the most depressing thing about last year was that disease following Michigan through a third head coach, and the one who should have been least susceptible to such a thing. But at least the ax fell.
It will not be another off year for Michigan in the NFL draft. The league's official site put out a list of 150 guys to watch for next year's draft, and Michigan players are liberally sprinkled throughout:
- #3 Rashan Gary: "A big man with linebacker-like movement skills"
- #10(!) Devin Bush: "the new prototype for linebacker in college and the NFL -- not necessarily big, but fast and aggressive."
- #25 Shea Patterson: "shows off great escapability on the run and an ability to move the ball through the air."
- #47 Chase Winovich: "can rush from a two- or three-point stance. He can also be effective bringing pressure from the interior."
- #65 Karan Higdon: "clearly superior to Ohio State's Mike Weber."
- #76 Khaleke Hudson
- #112 Lavert Hill
David Long's continued absence from these lists is baffling.
Per Zach Shaw, Michigan has the fourth-most players on the list, behind Clemson, Alabama, and OSU. A couple of OSU's are a little… uh… speculative. JK Dobbins, who isn't eligible for the upcoming draft, is there. So is Dwayne Haskins, who hasn't started a game yet.
On Mo Hurst in the NFL. Hurst dropped to the fifth round because of his heart issue, and the Raiders picking him prompted a bunch of criticism from everyone's favorite, the Anonymous NFL Insider. A former NFL team doctor reps his bros in response:
I actually think it is not only unfair and inaccurate but also irresponsible for a scout to characterize the drafting as "irresponsible." There is no way for a non-medical person to know.
As an orthopedic surgeon and physician, even I would rely on my primary care doctor and cardiology consultants to weigh in.
I do not see how a personnel person can make this proclamation. This opinion should carry the same weight as a team physician publicly criticizing Baker Mayfield as not worthy of the first pick in the draft.
I also don't know what's going on with Hurst's heart; hopefully everything works out for him.
Apparent hockey exit. The USHL's various drafts are ongoing—I won't bother you with the details—but since one weird hockey thing is that transfers will often return to the USHL for their NCAA mandated sit-out year, you occasionally get roster news. Roster news:
Wisconsin's JD Greenway selected 7th by Chicago; Michigan's James Sanchez selected 8th by Dubuque. A good indication that both are leaving their respective programs to return to juniors.
— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) May 8, 2018
Sanchez had 8 points in 27 games last year after playing in 34 as a freshman; he was stuck on the fourth line and probably had a talk about whether that was ever going to change.
Also in USHL draft news, highly touted 2020 commit Owen Power went 7th overall to Chicago in a different USHL draft—yes there are like seven different ways to get in this league—after being an early second-round pick in the OHL draft. That's a good sign for this edition of Michigan's never-ending blood war with the OHL.
Fellow touted 2020 commit Cole Perfetti went in the third round, also to Chicago. He went fifth overall in the OHL draft and will either be traded to a different OHL team for a bushel of picks in August or September and report or stick with his commitment. Due to yet more details about junior hockey that you don't need to know*, a high OHL draft selection is not necessarily the kiss of death. As Antonio Stranges demonstrated, it's more about location than draft slot.
*[OK, fine: Saginaw has a nearly full roster this year with or without Perfetti and will get a compensatory pick one slot lower than Perfetti's #5 selection next year if he doesn't report and is declared "defective."]
Etc.: AFC Ann Arbor plays an Open Cup match in Ypsi at 6. This year's basketball noncon tourney projects to be pretty lame, especially since M gets GW in the first round. Ok thanks Bobby Kotick but when do we get an updated Mechwarrior? Very detailed take on Comcast dropping BTN out of footprint.
TOO MANY COOKS [Bryan Fuller]
Today's hot topic is a statement from President in waiting Grant Newsome on last year's offense:
The offensive line? Players talked about how much new position coach Ed Warinner made simplifications this spring, mainly because he had no other choice. Grant Newsome told reporters Tuesday that Warinner stripped down the complex language and overall concept because it was overwhelming.
"He said he was even confused by the amount of terminology and different plays we had in the playbook," Newsome said.
The internet's talked a lot about the excessive complexity of Michigan's offense in the aftermath, and I feel like I have to interject. Michigan's OSU gameplan wins the game if it doesn't draw the worst QB performance in living memory. Michigan's ability to tweak and screw with people's heads has been a trademark of Harbaugh's best offenses. It can and should be Michigan's approaching going forward for the same reason RichRod shouldn't have run a pro-style offense in his first year in Ann Arbor.
I'd like to separate out the offensive approach in general from a particular problem on the offensive line that Newsome highlights above. Michigan's 2017 OL, and by extension the team, suffered from a terminal case of…
Borges disease is when you try to do everything without doing one thing well and everything falls apart in a morass of beautiful-on-paper plays that are executed with the balletic grace of a drunken donkey crashing his ex-wife's wedding.
Borges's special power was containing all bad-idea multitudes within himself. Michigan created their own version of this by importing former Indiana and RichRod OL coach Greg Frey for a single disastrous year. This wasn't Frey's fault; he remains a well-regarded OL coach and jumped to his alma mater FSU before a serious inquest could result. Because Frey's hire was a half-measure on Harbaugh's part, it blew up in his face.
Publicly, Michigan split OL duties between Frey and a still-extant Drevno, handing Frey the tackles and TEs while Drevno coached the interior line. I'm not sure that's the way it actually worked, because Michigan went from a power-based run offense in Harbaugh's first two years to an inside zone team with some power sprinkled in. Then they went to a 50/50 split, and finally they returned zone to an occasional constraint play, because they were immensely bad at running zone.
So not only did Michigan spend a bunch of time trying to get good at IZ and burn a bunch of snaps grabbing two yards a pop, they retarded their growth as the mashing power team their personnel certainly pointed to. Post-MSU UFR, which was in the 50-50 phase:
Michigan ran 11 zone plays versus 14 gap-blocked plays. (FB dives, crack sweeps, and the reverse are excluded from this analysis.) That is a significant shift away from zone. That still remains a part of the playbook, obviously... but a crappy one. Those 11 plays gained just 25 yards. Michigan suuuucks at zone.
There were costs to the returning diversity. Michigan had a couple of plays on which it looked like someone busted an assignment. Onwenu appeared to be running a trap on a play that was not a trap, and either Hill or McKeon busted on this Isaac TFL. Michigan blocks a big cavern in the middle that has an unblocked LB, and then Hill runs outside. Isaac follows him, because follow your fullback:
I gave that to Hill but that could be what he's supposed to do; in that case McKeon needs to be doubling on Cole's guy and leaving the force player for Hill. YMMV. Either way it's a mental mistake that turns a promising play into a TFL.
When Michigan focused on becoming the mashing team they were always supposed to be, the results were good. Despite wasting a bunch of time, their S&P+ breakdown stats paint the picture of a bunch of maulers:
- Power success rate: 7th
- Adjusted line yards: 20th
- Rushing explosiveness: 29th
- Overall rushing S&P+: 14th
A #47 stuff rate, #79 success rate, and #90 opportunity rate look like a lot of missed assignments in that context, missed assignments created by Michigan's failed attempt to adopt Frey's approach on the ground.
That is dysfunction. Michigan masked it fairly well by pushing the abort button halfway through the season and having a couple good running backs and some Large Adult Sons. But since those Large Adult Sons came coupled with serious pass protection issues, there was no Plan B for the other half of the offense.
There the disconnect between Drevno and Frey was easily seen every time Michigan failed to pick up a stunt, which was about every other stunt. Michigan looked like the worst-coached offensive line in the country last year. I started wondering if Patrick Kugler's inability to get on the field until his redshirt senior year was because he couldn't make a line call to save his life. And here's where the Newsome quote comes in. Michigan clearly couldn't execute their pass protection system.
An outsider can't know whether that's because two different guys were teaching it, or it was an unholy combination of two different approaches, or it was just plain bad because Drevno is bad and should feel bad. But it all goes back to Michigan importing an offensive coordinator (Pep Hamilton) and an OL coach without telling the guy who thought he was both to hit the bricks.
“Hello. Good to see everybody.”
Jim, couple misses today but the new guys that you did get, what do you think about the class?
“Very excited about the class. First time we’ve had two signing days, so many that you know about and proud to announce, officially, Shea Patterson—talked about him; Ronnie Bell, can officially announce Ronnie; Casey Hughes, who’s also a graduate transfer; Vince Gray; Michael Barrett. So, welcome to the Michigan family.”
You started talking about Ronnie the last time inadvertently, but what is it that you like about Ronnie?
“Love all his athletic ability. Start off with production: 86 catches, close to 1200 yards, Simone Player of the Year in Kansas City, player of the year in football. He’s also an excellent basketball player and…love the family, love him. Production. Production being the key thing.”
MGoQuestion: What are you getting in Michael Barrett and do you envision him starting off at quarterback or running back or somewhere else?
“Envision him getting the ball in his hands. Wide receiver, slot receiver, running back: those two areas primarily for him. Spent some time with Anquan Boldin, who was also a high school quarterback. Played some quarterback in college, and eventually wide receiver. Somebody that can get the ball and make yards after the catch or yards after contact. A receiver who can run like a running back and, also, I think he’ll have the ability to be a running back. So, different areas that Michael could get the football, including quarterback.”
Now that it’s all over and you’ve had the two signing days, you’ve had the coaches moving in between, with all of it together, what did you learn about this…new world, I suppose? What did you take away from it overall?
“I don’t know what the numbers exactly will be but somewhere around 80% seemed to sign on the first signing day, and then there was 20% more that signed throughout college football. I think our numbers will be pretty close to that. There was a priority for the youngsters to sign on the first signing day. That’s the biggest thing, the biggest takeaway.”
[After THE JUMP: possible positions for Ryan Hayes and Casey Hughes, another spring abroad, and thoughts on new staff additions (including those no longer here)]